No Waiting Game, Bohl Says Chambers Will Start at QB vs. San Jose State
Wyoming coach Craig Bohl did not hesitate this week.
He made it official on Monday that true freshman Sean Chambers is No. 1 on the depth chart at quarterback, and is set to make it second start in as many weeks on Saturday afternoon against San Jose State at War Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.
The plan was for Chambers to redshirt this year. With the Cowboys struggling, however, Chambers came off the bench against Utah State two weekends ago, and after taking two snaps in that first half, he was the primary quarterback in that second half, rushing for 100 yards in his collegiate debut.
And then came his first collegiate start, Friday night against Colorado State, and he guided the Cowboys to a 34-21 victory in the Border War, the Cowboys keeping the Bronze Boot for a third consecutive season, and the bulk of the residents of Kerman, Calif., finding reason to celebrate.
“Kerman is a small town, about 15,000 people,” said Chambers. “I think about 14,000 people were watching the game on Friday. I got a bunch of texts, calls, supporting me.”
Now, the Cowboys are hoping, he can add that missing ingredient and guide the Cowboys to wins in their next three regular-season games – at home with San Jose State and Air Force and at New Mexico – willing to forgo his redshirt in hopes of becoming bowl eligible.
“It is a product of our offense needing a little shift, that added element he brings,” said offensive coordinator Brent Vixen. “For him to be able to go out there and make big plays with his feet is big. I think the thing he showed against CSU is his ability to throw the ball.
“He brought a different energy. That’s a credit to Sean.”
And he has settled in quickly.
The debut came in a two-down series in the second half against Utah State. He rushed twice for nine yards, fumbling the ball away on the second carry, and finding himself back on the bench.
After Tyler Vander Waal, who had been the starting quarterback, threw an interception on the first play of the second half, leaving Utah State having to go only three yards for a touchdown that gave it a 17-3 lead, Chambers was back on the field on the next series, and by game’s end had made his presence felt.
He only threw five passes, but completed three of them for 62 yards. And he finished the game with 19 rushes for 100 yards, not losing yardage of any of the runs.
Bohl, however, held off anointing Chambers as the starting quarterback for the CSU game until shortly before game time last Saturday. He didn’t seem the least bit awed by the emotions of the Border War, guiding the Cowboys to a 34-21 win. He netted 101 yards rushing this time, and completed 7 of 10 passes not only for 116 yards, but also two touchdowns, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to running back Nico Evans.
Evans, who had rushed for 107 of his 138 yards rushing against Utah State with Chambers behind center, ground out 176 net yards against CSU, and the Cowboys had two running backs reach the 100-yard mark in back-to-back games for the first time since the formation of the MW Conference.
“He showed his natural ability,” said Bohl. “He is a competitive guy who can run and pass. During the course of (last) week he was embracing the game plan. We did not feel the stage would be too big for Sean, and we are glad to see how he came out of it.”
The Cowboys showed some life in the first half, but still only led 3-0 at the midway point.
But then. …
The Cowboys got the kickoff to start the second half, and marched 75 yards in nine plays to a touchdown on Chambers’ 14-yard pass to Evans. Slightly more than four minutes into the fourth quarter, the Cowboys had built their lead to 27-7 and went into a preventive defense.
“It was nice to get such a much-needed win,” said Chambers.
And as it realized as the game went on, it was especially nice to do it in the Border War.
“About halftime,” Chambers said when asked if there was a point where he finally appreciated the importance of the Border War. “I went out excited to be a starter, and at halftime I realized, `We have to win this game. It’s a big game.’ We scored on that first possession (of the second half) and after that I think everybody was relaxed.”
Now, Chambers is ready for the next step.
“He’s a cool customer,” said Vigen. “It’s not because he played on a big stage (in high school). He understands it’s about 11 (players) out there. That’s rubbed off in a short time. Having that foundation that early is not something you can count on, but he certainly has.”
And there is something to play for – three more wins, putting the Cowboys in position to be invited to a bowl.
“We know what’s at stake, but we also know our focus is on San Jose State, that game and only that game,” said Chambers.
It is, as the Cowboys have been saying for more than a week, a four-game playoff.
And the emergence of Chambers with his multi-faceted offensive abilities has made the hopes seem real.